Iran – flowers, fountains, mosques and more

Iran was definitely a place of surprises! “Hello, how are you? Where are you from?” Iranians everywhere stopped us in the street to chat, or waved from their cars or tooted their horns as we crossed the street. Tehran tulip gardenA favourite pastime is to picnic anywhere; in the luscious gardens, next to archaeological sites or along a desolate road to nowhere. And they were more than happy to share their home cooked meals with us.Esfahan bridge




Water is the source of life and fountains bubble and spray in the squares and garden settings, as locals sit nearby enjoying the music of the water.Wind tunnel Yadz

Garden KermanReligious leaders rest from their teaching in the shade of orange blossom that saturates the air and inebriates us.Religious leaders


Shiraz kidsKids play in modern sculpted furniture, while we play with the mannequins outside the Fortress of Shiraz.


Fortress ShirazShiraz fortress





After some relaxing time we move amongst the crowds to explore the labyrinth of corridors in the bazaars and catch a glimpse of local foods and handicrafts.

A pick me up of street food – falafels, samosas, kebabs,rice stew, or a simple fruit or vegie shake keep us going for a while longer.Street stallFruit shakes







And lead by our faithful guide we begin the first of our many mosque visits. Geometric and floral decorations are spectacular, as are the stained glass windows which pour a magical light inside as well as help to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Shiraz sanctuary of light

Shiraz mosqueAnd between mosques we visit local bath houses – Hamman, also elaborately decorated.

From the smallest rural mosque tended by nomads to the glorious Sanctuary Of Fatimah in Qom where the Khomeini revolution began, each had it’s own charm and splendour.

A dazzling wealth of gold and silver blind us in the sun, a vivid contrast to the simplicity of the rural mosques and local lifestyle, and we stand out like sore thumbs, struggling to keep our chador from slipping off as we try to photograph the massive Sanctuary.Sanctuary of Fatimah

Cahdor - Qom





And this has only been part of our adventure as we put our feet up in a local tea house in Shiraz.Shiraz tea house

Shiraz Tea house

Shiraz Tea house






Later we take a sunset stroll through the Poet Hafez (1310-90) garden and tomb mingling with locals who revere him as a Saint.Poets tombPoets garden






Poet Hafez tomb

Poet Hafez tomb

Some curious contemporary facts shared by our guide:

1 in 3 marriages end in divorce.                               Most are not practicing Muslims.                               The Supreme leader wants to double the population so abortion and contraception are only available illegally.                                                    Most have a parabola to see outside news, which every so often is confiscated.                                 There is an active black market to access alcohol                                                       And apps to  access facebook and twitter which are publicly blocked.

Tehran Freedom tower

Tehran Freedom tower Designed by 23yr old local architect

There is still so much more to tell about Iran – of amazing Archeological sites, hiking in the desert and to the Castle of the young maidens, the gigantic square in Esfahan, the caravanserai……but that will have to be in another post!



On a magic carpet ride to Iran

My visa came through today so I am off to Iran for 2 weeks tomorrow!

Persian carpet

1880 Riding a Flying Carpet – Viktor Vasnetsov

I have made my own coverall jacket  and have been practising various veil techniques that cover both hair and neck, and that don’t slip off!

The tour is to cover the major sights of Iran, ancient mosques and shrines, archaeological sites, including a hike across the desert amongst the sand castles of Kerman. I’m expecting exotic architecture, elaborate decorations, colourful bazaars, and friendly people. We start in Tehran and move on to Esfahan, Yazd, Kerman, Shiraz and Persepolis and there will definitely be a post on it on my return!

Iran map

Reproduced with permission from Lonely Planet. © Lonely Planet, 2011